There is so much advice about raising kids, and gradually more and more about raising teens, but when it comes to young adults, poof! There’s nothing.

And I know that’s because they are adults, of course. Does the word “parenting” even go together with “young adults?” I mean, they are adults now, is parenting still even in the picture? But as I grow into this business I’m realizing there’s a lot more involved than just throwing them some cheery high-fives to my young adults every now and again.

(I talked a little about that over on an Instagram post a while back, and all about “moving to the bleachers” on another blog post as well if you want to check out more thoughts.)

I know there are other “fellow sufferers” our there trying to figure out how to do the business of “being there,” but also “not being there” with their young adults. And although these thoughts may sound light-hearted, there are really some deep-down solemn things I’ve been wrestling with how to help lately.

A Hike Where We Got Lost

So I wanted to share some thoughts I had on a hike Dave and I went on with some of those young adults of ours this summer.

We were lost, thick into the prickly-yet-gorgeous purple thistles of the Utah mountains.

There had been some construction we crossed, and the path had vanished. (We were walking right through the trench they had dug and realized we missed “the way.”)

We worked together, used two maps, and realized whenever there was a question we just needed to remember to keep going “up.”

And finally (after a lot of steep trudging) we found our way to a pretty glorious vista.

That Hike as an Analogy to Parenting Adult Kids

It reminded me that sometimes that’s how parenting is.

We are in such new, unknown terrain.

Not just right now as we try to find the right balance with so many adult kids, (this is tricky business I tell you!), but isn’t it that way in all of parenting?

We think we’re on the path and then we realize we’re not. We have a lot of studying of maps and working together to do.

And it’s tiring. Sometimes seemingly all uphill.

But THEN! Oh then….we get to that vista and can see where we’ve come from and all the growth that has happened.

And it makes all that trudging mean something.

Then, of course, another trickier climb seems to always find its way in front of us.

With briars and thorns along the way.

And THEN, just when you think all your troubles are over (again), and you are pleased as punch with yourself, sitting in the shade, enjoying the fruits of your labors:

…you realize you can’t take your dog on the lift with you back down.

So you trudge, sometimes all alone, back down. Into the fray.

The Vistas are Coming!

Life is filled up to the brim with that rollercoaster, don’t you think? The long climbs, the “descending,” then the “push.”

But I’m here to send some love and encouragement to those like me who are in the arena right now, wherever you are.

A vista is surely around the bend.

As far as young adults go, maybe the bottom line is, do they know you adore them?

I guess the trick is to realize more and more how much we can see when we reach “up.” And trust the Source who knows the terrain, and those young adults we’re trying to “not be there for,” so much better than we do.

More about young adults

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  1. Thank you for sharing these thoughts (actually, thank you for all of the thoughts you share!). I’m in this arena, too. I was pretty completely unprepared for the complexity and difficulty of parenting adult children – it is the hardest parenting I’ve done! Your words are so positive and encouraging. Keep climbing/trudging – there are more of us on the mountain with you!

  2. It’s interesting that through ‘childhood’ parenting there is always something new to deal with as they grow and progress. We want to think that stops somehow when they are adults. But, it doesn’t. Always something new comes. We have grand children now and it’s the same with them. And, grand kids add even a new layer to parenting. You’ll have that soon I hope 😉 Thanks for the post!

  3. I’m right there with you! There’s a great book by Jim Burns called Doing Life With Your Adult Children. Highly recommend!

  4. I love this so much! Right in the thick of it with you. . . So tricky. I love especially what you said about, “Do they know you adore them?” I actually just felt that recently during prayer — that love needs to be the motivating force in any interaction with them, not the fear that I had been coming from. And yes, He knows and loves them even better than we do, so I will trust in Him!

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